It’s time for the January K-pop highlights for the new year 2023! How are you, and how did you celebrate the new year? Did you make any new year’s promises? I’ve been so busy in my mind and timewise doing work, hobbies etc. that I didn’t remember to make any promises. If I could promise something for myself, it would be playing more guitar and keyboards! Those have been neglected for a long time. I even got a new electro-acoustic guitar in December, which I love.
January 2023 was very interesting for new K-pop releases: we got a lot of comebacks and debuts. New girl groups that debuted were PRIMROSE with a song called ‘PRIMROSE‘, Cherish with a song called ‘Bloom’ (‘피어나’) and a group called HANA with a debut song’ Bla:ze’. Boy groups that made a debut in January were 8TURN with the song ‘TIC TAC’, which is a super catchy song, and I love it, and BXB with the song ‘도약’ (‘Fly Away’).
We even got a debut from an AI girl group called MAVE (메이브) with the song ‘PANDORA’! This is a catchy song from the new virtual group. I have a blog post in December where I am writing about the metaverse and new technology in K-pop. We see a rise here as we get MAVE in 2023. Let me know if I missed a debut here or which debuts you enjoyed the most on my Instagram!
New K-pop releases 2023 on my Youtube channel
So, I started on my Youtube channel series this year every day, giving my first impressions of new K-pop releases. You can check out the latest releases on my Youtube channel @bluetucana, and I try to post every day if there are enough releases. I collect there all the new releases that have a music video. Please subscribe to my channel to get the latest posts about K-pop and travelling from me if you want to!
I have left out OSTs for my sanity. There are many releases on some days of the week, and the workload would be more significant with all the OSTs also listed there. And it’s fun to see what kind of music videos groups and artists have! I will be adding songs there that don’t have music videos, too, if they are my favourite artists/groups/songs.
The new release series helps me to find new songs because I try to follow every day what’s happening. And so, highlights are easier to collect during the month. Some songs go under the radar, but I may add those in the future to the first impressions later if I find tracks I like.
Let’s hop on to the January K-pop highlights!
Chill and melodic: Yugyeom (from GOT7), ‘Ponytail (feat. Sik-K)’ (Single, AOMG)
Yugyeom is from GOT7 and released his single ‘Ponytail’ at the start of January. First, this song sounded like a pleasant pop song to listen to, but nothing special. The song’s catchy melodies and the laid-back hip-hop/R&B vibe got me hooked, and I found myself listening to this song more. The soft vocals of Yugyeom, outstanding production, organ sound in the background, cool drum beats, and melodic hooks made this a highlight this month!
Yugyeom and other artists from the label AOMG are on a world tour this winter and spring in Asia and Europe; hooray! So, you have an excellent chance to check out incredible artists like Simon Dominic, LeeHi, LOCO and Coogie.
Cool with attitude: CAMO, MAPSI (Single, 502)
Camo, a rapper and songwriter, is a new artist to me, and I found this song after making the daily K-pop releases. I am glad I found this artist, and this song is one of the highlights of this month! ‘Mapsi’ is a fantastic slow hip-hop song with impressive guitar riffs, booming bass and excellent rapping. Also, the music video is great with CAMO’s charisma.
She wants to create songs she likes and doesn’t compromise with the music she makes. Her previous songs are Wifey (featuring Simon Dominic) and ‘Life is Wet’.
Collaboration of the month: TAEYANG, ‘VIBE (feat. Jimin of BTS)’ (Single, The Black Label)
As two singers from two big groups, BIGBANG and BTS, were releasing a song, it would make people curious about what kind of song they would release. BIGBANG’s TAEYANG and Jimin’s from BTS collaboration was the most anticipated song in January. ‘VIBE’ is a catchy slower pop song with some 80’s inspired drum fills and sounds. The song lets TAEYANG’s and Jimin’s voices shine, which is the best thing. This song gradually became more listened to in my playlist. The melodies grew on me when listening to this song more, and the chorus is very catchy.
The dance choreography is fantastic in ‘VIBE’ and is quite tricky too. It’s pretty fast, so that is the challenge for the practice! The music video is in a simple studio setting letting the artists’ charisma and TAEYANG’s and Jimin’s cool outfits stand out. This was a wonderful collaboration, dance choreography and song, so it is in the highlights!
Another hit from ASTRO’s duo: MOONBIN & SANHA, Madness (EP, Fantagio)
MOONBIN & SANHA released a mini-album called ‘INCENSE’ in January, and the title track is ‘Madness’. At first, when I listened to ‘Madness’, it was so similar to the bassline to the song and the intro of Stray Kids’ classic song ‘Back Door’. I also found other similarities between the songs. However, I like this song, the concept (mad scientists from the 19th century?), and the dance choreography, so it is one of the K-pop highlights this month.
Madness is a funky and groovy pop song with superb vocals. The chorus has a super catchy melody and hooks, which is suitable for this pop song to grip the listener with the bassline and vocals. MOONBIN and SANHA from ASTRO have released amazing songs, such as ‘Bad Idea‘ (my favourite!) and ‘WHO‘.
Dancing in the Moonlight: Twice, Moonlight Sunrise (Single, JYP Entertainment)
Twice’s new single, released in January’ Moonlight Sunrise’ is an upbeat dance-pop track. I put this as a highlight because the music production decisions here were interesting, and this song is catchy danceable K-pop. You got a very popping kick with a pumping sound and dissonant synths, which makes this song’s texture interesting. The chorus is catchy too!
The song is more mature for the TWICE’s style than their previous songs and music videos. They deliver the song with great vocals, as always. The music video is beautiful and cute, and the dance choreography looks fun too!
Song of the Month: Nine (from OnlyOneOf): BeyOnd (Single, underground idol #6, 8D Entertainment)
Nine from the boy group OnlyOneOf released at the start of the month a single called ‘BeyOnd’, a melodic pop track with great production. This song has impressive R&B feelings and melodies, and the track rolls effortlessly forward. Nine’s beautiful vocals fit this style. The chorus is a fantastic melody, and with the great beats and sounds in this song, ‘BeyOnd’ is one of the best songs of 2023 so far! The sounds and vocals are mysterious, and there is a lot of “air” in the production – I like this a lot. This song doesn’t sound like many K-pop song music productions these days, so I recommend you check this one out. It is a cool sound and, therefore, this month’s highlight!
A perfect pop song: Aimers, Fireworks (Special single, HyperRhythm)
Aimers is a reasonably new boy group; they debuted in November 2022 with a mini-album called ‘STAGE 0. BETTING STARTS’. They are a six-member group. And now they are out with a special single called ‘Fireworks’. ‘Fireworks is a beautiful pop song with solid melodies and a catchy chorus melody. This sóng has excellent vocals from the members. The music video is adorable and shows them travelling in the wintertime.
I didn’t make my predictions for the new year 2023, but I’m sharing one now, which I think will come back. More melodic pop songs in K-pop for the groups will come back. K-pop songs from boy/girl groups haven’t had solid melodies for a while (not being as popular), but I believe grand melodies will come back slowly to upbeat songs. ‘Fireworks’ is a song with strong melodies, and it gives me hope of strong melodies making a comeback in mainstream K-pop. I do hope so, as this is an awesome release!
Summing Up January 2023 K-pop Highlights
Thank you for reading this far and being here! This month’s highlights are great songs, and it has helped me gather them, making the daily video of K-pop new releases. This month the K-pop highlights included hip-hop, pop, some experimentalism and even some retro elements.
On Spotify, I have a new favourites list for the highlights and other songs I have enjoyed. Also, you can find all of these highlights listed here on a Youtube playlist, “K-pop Highlights 2023”. You can also find the highlights of 2022 on Spotify and Youtube if you’re interested in checking those out.
This month’s drawing for this blog is inspired by the street of Seoul in South Korea, where I was on an autumn trip last October. I hope you have a fantastic week and February. I wish you health and happiness in the year 2023! See you next time, bye!